Bricks, Bugs, Britain, More: Friday Morning Buzz, March 20th, 2015


This is a new one on me. The Cleveland Indians have launched a commemorative brick database. “Fans can visit their website and search for their brick by entering the name or inscription that appears on the stone. The site will then list your brick and show a series of three numbers that represent a quadrant, row and column.”

Now available: an online library of federal IT policies. “The database includes 83 specific documents, with bulleted agency requirements enumerated for each. The documents range from OMB and presidential policy memos to laws like Clinger-Cohen and the DATA Act.”


Facebook has launched friend-to-friend payments via messages.

Wow! The 40 millionth WorldCat Digital Collection Gateway record has been added to WorldCat.

WordPress 4.2 beta 2 is now available.

The state of New York is adding an API to “ is an effort by the Attorney General’s office to promote the public’s right to know and monitor governmental decision-making; it is the only statewide resource that aggregates a range of sources for state government information – including data on campaign finance, lobbying, charities, state contracts, member items, corporate registrations, elected officials, and legislation – which is otherwise scattered or difficult to retrieve. The NY Open Government API will allow developers easier access to this data, which they can use in the creation of applications.”


Fair warning: if you decide you want to test Facebook’s new suicide prevention/intervention tool, it may not go that well.

Whoopsie. A security bug may mean Facebook is leaking private photos. (Was, rather, looks like Facebook has addressed the problem.) “Vaultimages resides within the Facebook Graph API and handles synchronisation of photos from devices to the social media site Muthiyah found the Facebook app makes GET requests to /vaultimages using a top level access token to read photos which is verified using an access token. Facebook however did not check what application issued the request.”

Premera Blue Cross has been hacked. 11 million customers have been impacted, and the information exposed includes medical records. “On Tuesday, Premera Blue Cross confirmed that it had been the victim of a cyberattack which may have exposed the private information belonging to its 11 million customers, including their bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, emails, addresses, phone numbers, and even their claims and clinical information.”

Eek. Do you use the Google Analytics plugin for WordPress by Yoast? It’s got a security problem. “Revealed on Thursday by Finnish security researcher Jouko Pynnonen on Full Disclosure, the plugin’s security issue allows an unauthenticated attacker to store arbitrary HTML, including JavaScript, in the WordPress administrator’s Dashboard on the target system — and which is triggered when an admin views the plugin’s settings panel.”

The British government’s “Google Tax” is going into effect next month. “The tax was flagged during the Autumn Statement in December 2014, and levies a 25% charge on companies who divert their profits overseas through complex business structures to avoid paying UK tax.” It’ll be really interesting to see how tech companies react to this…


Interesting article in Fast Company about Twitter’s influence… on other social media networks. “BuzzFeed found that Twitter has a big cascade effect on other social media platforms. Put simply, it appears that huge stories often start as tweets, then get shared by influencers to Facebook and other networks, where the original piece of content subsequently gets far more distribution.”

Xinye Lin, Mingyuan Xia, and Xue Liu wrote an interesting paper I just stumbled across: Does “Like” Really Mean Like? A Study of the Facebook Fake Like Phenomenon and an Efficient Countermeasure. From the abstract: “Social networks help to bond people who share similar interests all over the world. As a complement, the Facebook “Like” button is an efficient tool that bonds people with the online information. People click on the ‘Like’ button to express their fondness of a particular piece of information and in turn tend to visit webpages with high ‘Like’ count. The important fact of the Like count is that it reflects the number of actual users who ‘liked’ this information. However, according to our study, one can easily exploit the defects of the ‘Like’ button to counterfeit a high ‘Like’ count. We provide a proof-of-concept implementation of these exploits, and manage to generate 100 fake Likes in 5 minutes with a single account.” Good morning, Internet…

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